October 14, 2008

Croom's Tuesday Press Conference

There is plenty of controversy swirling around Knoxville, Tenn., involving Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer and their lack of offensive production.

But one person that is not buying into the hype is Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom.

Croom heard the same grumblings a year ago and the Volunteers promptly racked up 470 yards and left Davis Wade Stadium with a 33-21 win.

"It sounds like the same old scenario we were in last year," Croom said. "Going into our game last year they were struggling on offense and everybody was complaining about their offense. They turned to (Arian) Foster and handed him the ball about 20-30 times and that was the difference in the ballgame. We probably played our poorest run defense all year against Tennessee and they played their best offensive game against us. As they say, it's déjà vu all over again."

Tennessee is ranked 104th in the country in total offense averaging just 299.5 yards per game. But Croom feels the Volunteer offense is much more potent than their statistics show.

"We have to assume that their offense and their kicking game are going to be at its absolute best because they've got great athletes and are a very well coached football team. We assume they will be hitting on all cylinders. We have to be at our very best. I don't think they made any bones about it, they intend to run Foster right at us and when they get that established run the playaction pass off of that. When they throw it, it's not dinking and dumping. They go for the home run every time so it's going to be a great challenge for our defense."

Defensively, Tennessee boasts one of the best secondaries in the Southeastern Conference led by Eric Berry, who leads the nation in interceptions with four.

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